After completion of disseminating one million solar study lamps in rural areas, IIT Bombay has undertaken an initiative in Dungarpur block, Rajasthan through forming partnership with cluster level federations (CLFs) of Rajeevika (Rajasthan Grameen Ajeevika Vikas Parishad). This initiative focuses on development of solar enterprise, for which women self help group (SHG) members from CLFs are trained and mentored to become solar entrepreneurs. In the initial stage, solar study lamps are disseminated to school-going students and their mothers. For dissemination of lamps, women from four federations representing four clusters in Dungarpur block are engaged in different capacities such as managers, assemblers, distributors and service providers for repair and maintenance. This is a unique initiative that empowers women, from a tribal and one of the most backward blocks of Rajasthan, to earn their livelihoods by becoming solar entrepreneurs.
Idea Cellular Limited has provided financial support for this initiative that aims to disseminate 60,000 solar urja lamps (SoULs) in Dungarpur block. Instead of NGOs as it was the case in the Million SoUL Program, four cluster level federations (formed under Rajeevika) through their established network of women Self Help Groups (SHGs) in villages are implementing the program at the grassroots level. Dungarpur initiative has dual objective of distributing SoULs to school-going children together with their mothers and empowering women SHG members to operate solar enterprises to earn livelihoods thereby facilitating process of adaptation of solar technology. Key activity of knowledge and skill transfer through intensive training was completed in May 2016, which trained 93 women. Women have started with assembling of the lamps, raising awareness about solar PV technology through vigorous campaign and distributing SoULs. Apart from employment generation for those involved in the implementation as assemblers, distributors, data entry persons, providers of repair and maintenance services and managers, the cluster level federation will earn income of INR. 80 per lamp. This money will further feed into a ‘solar corpus’ that is created for establishing and operating solar enterprise. For generating sustainable livelihoods through solar technology, a provision has been made in the program according to which funds from CLF as well as solar corpus created have been earmarked for solar enterprise development and activating solar market in Dungarpur area. This provision holds potential to respond to the demand for other solar products that is being created through the solar study lamp program and also expand the existing solar market. As a part of solar enterprise development, solar shops that will be operated on for-profit basis will be established with support from CLFs, which will be entirely managed by women SHG members. An eco-system will be created to ensure the supply of quality solar products through vendors.